WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (CBS) — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of the Little League World Series for the first time ever. The nearly 75-year-old event was supposed to take place in August.
“This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamt of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events,” said Little League President Stephen Keener. “After exhausting all possible options, we came to the conclusion that because of the significant public health uncertainty that will still exist several months from now, and with direction from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, as well as senior public health officials and government leaders from locations where our other six World Series are held, as well as their qualifying regional tournaments, it will not be possible to proceed with our tournaments as we’ve hosted them for nearly 75 years.”
The league said a number of factors went into the decision to cancel the World Series and regional tournaments, including:
- The inability to play qualifying tournaments in many of the U.S. and international regions, coupled with direction from federal officials regarding the complexity of international travel restrictions and immigration requirements.
- An indication from teams from around the globe that they will be unable to participate or travel to these tournaments.
- The testing and mitigation protocols that would need to be in place at these significant public events should an individual participating or attending an event be diagnosed with COVID-19.
“Delivering this news comes with a very heavy heart. We have never had to cancel our World Series tournaments, but, right now, as our world comes together, we must do everything we can to help stem the spread of this deadly virus,” said Little League International Board of Directors Chairman Hugh Tanner. “While we take this pause from the World Series and Regional Tournaments this summer, we are committed to working with our volunteers and staff to continue to provide an unparalleled youth sports experience to all children and be back stronger than ever in 2021.”
Next year was supposed to be the Little League’s 75th anniversary, but that celebration will now take place in 2022.